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Vol. I No. 02

The Official Newsletter of the 1st National Eco-Tourism Festival, Sta. Teresita, Cagayan

March 1, 2013

MUSCLE POWER. Local rowers outdo each other as they struggle to reign supreme during the Bangkarera event held at the pristine Bangalao lake. (PIA-2 photo)

Maquera Cave is world class, American explorers say

By Benjie S. De Yro With Reports from Thelma M. Mercado

BANGALAO LAKE, Luga, Sta. Teresita, Cagayan (PIA) - Californian caving explorers have given their most anticipated verdict yesterday: Maquera Cave belongs to the league of beautiful caves around the world. Caving partners Betty and Daniel Veelik who explored the various caves other than Maquera in this municipality since Monday, were amazed to discover and explore a rather virginal cave in the vicinity. “It’s amazingly beautiful,” Betty said. They claimed it was in Maquera Cave where they saw different rock formations they never saw in any cave they’ve explored elsewhere before. The team said that while some caves are for show, they should be protected as they can likewise provide livelihood to the community. ...to page 5

Maquera Cave

FLASH! Pyrotechnique display and awarding ceremonies tonight at the Base camp, Barangay Luga. Break camp tomorrow.

Bangkarera excites participants

An open letter from Mayor Lolita C. Garcia, p2

BANGALAO LAKE – Shouts of excitement and thrills ripped the silence of the 200 hectare majestic body of water as various local rowers outpaddled each other for the bangkarera supremacy title yesterday. At least five teams fielded their ...to page 5 muscled rowers

Special Report

Where there’s SMOC, there’s adventure (First of Three Parts) By Benjie S. De Yro/ PIA 2 Features

T

hey come from different economic levels, professions and social consciousness. Yet, they all answered to a single call unheard of by a majority of their peers.They became what they are today because of that call- protect and ...to page 6 conserve nature or perish.


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EDITORIAL Festival Postscript

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he last tent will be folded up tomorrow. Boats to the Bangalau Lake have been anchored. The different spelunkers finally left their footprints on the soil of the various caves. The explorers and discoverers of Sta. Teresita’s natural endowments have “taken nothing but pictures, left nothing but footprints and killed nothing but time.” Finally with a heavy heart, participants to the 1st National Ecotourism Festival will bid Sta. Teresita goodbye. But what the heck? They have maximized their stay, savored the warmth and hospitality of the Theresians, forged friendship among the locals and promised to come back. So what’s next? The Local Government Unit led by Mayor Lolita Garcia has set the pace for the municipality to attain a tourism prominence given the massive and aggressive development going on in Northeastern Cagayan. The job of staging a festival of national prominence is gargantuan as it is nerve-wracking. Yet, for a town, as small and as young as Sta. Teresita, to conduct such event is unexpected. To leave a lasting impression is another. Luckily, Sta. Teresita is more than expectations and impressions. For the rest of the other municipalities in the country with the same stature as Sta. Teresita, that would be a difficult act to follow. But the Local Chief Executive refused to give credit to herself but to SMOC, DOT, PIA, DENR, the Provincial Government, the participants and other stakeholders and most especially to the nameless and faceless Sta. Teresita residents who really are the supporting actors during the event. Congratulations would be an inferior word for the municipality. (PIA-2)

rial B Edito

oard Thelma M. Mercado Editor-In-Chief

Visiting Associate Editor Benjie S. De Yro, PIA-2 Managing Editor James Mike O. Caday Graphic and Design Alvin Delos Santos, PIA-2 Consultants Mayor Lolita C. Garcia Dir. Purita S. Licas, PIA-2

Bangalau is the official newsletter of the 1st National Ecotourism Festival with editorial office at the Mayor’s Office Sta. Teresita Municipal Hall, Sta. Teresita, Cagayan For comments and suggestion pls. contact number 0927-7487799, email adress: thelma_ mercado@yahoo.com

ISANG BUKAS NA LIHAM Mayor Garcia Kayong mga kababayan ko, Una, tanggapin ninyo ang taos-puso kong pasasalamat sa inyong walang sawang pagsuporta sa akin bilang ina ng bayang ito. Alam ko, kulang ang mga salita upang maipadama ko ang aking kasiyahan sa resulta ng kauna-unahang Pambansang Ecotourism Festival sa ating hamak na bayan. Hindi naging matagumpay ang adhikaing ito kung hindi tayo nagsama-sama at buong giting na nagtulungan para dito. Ang totoo niyan, katulad din ng iba sa ating mga lokal na opisyal at halos lahat ng mga empleyado ng local na pamahalaan, halos hindi rin ako makatulog habang inihahanda natin ang gawaing ito. Ngunit malaki ang paniniwala ko sa bawat isa sa atin. Mula sa mga magsasaka, mangingisda, mga maliliit na mangangalakal, mga kababaihan, kabataan at mga senior citizens, maging si Mamang tricycle driver at si Ginang buko juice vendor; iisa ang kanilang naging hangad. Ito ay ang kahit paano, maipakita natin kung ano tayo at ano ang kaya nating gawin. Hindi mahalaga na tayo’y maliit na bayan lamang. Kailanman, hindi nakakapuwing ang malalaki, ayon sa kasabihan. Harinawang ang mga karanasang naibahagi sa atin ay magsisilbing sulo’ sa patuloy nating paglalakbay sa tugatog pa ng pag-unlad. Nawa’y patuloy ang pagdagsa ng mga taong bukas ang kalooban sa pagtulong sa atin. Kasama ninyo ako sa hangaring uunlad pa ng husto ang ating bayan. Ito pa lamang ang simula. Maraming-maraming salamat. Agyamanak unay, kailian.


Pass the mic, please... By James Mike O. Caday

It has been described as a sleeping tourism giant but after the weeklong 1st National Ecotourism Festival It took a dramatic turn for the better. Sta. Teresita is now moving on and soaring high as it starts to built a name in the tourism industry. From the first day, the festivity was filled with fun activities, nightly entertainment and educational tours. Tourists have come and go to experience the kind of adventure one can only find in Sta. Teresita. As the festival keeps going, it reaches the feverish high and intensity as one shares their extra ordinary experience throughout the festivity. Here are some of their gathered impressions. -oOoWe are shocked with the promising spots that you have here in Sta. Teresita, SUPER UNEXPECTED! Sulit na Sulit ang pagod papunta dito - Marlon Garcia, Tuguegarao City. -oOoThe scenery that you have here are unique. It is very different from other caves that I’ve seen. Next time around I’ll bring all my friends here to explore the beauty of nature that you have. Jeric Talbo -oOoWe used to pass by your municipality to find some unusual activities with my friends. Because of your tarpaulins and posters we immediately decided to experience Sta. Teresita. Absolutely YES! Uulit uulitin pa! We enjoyed it ! -oOoThe entertainment at night was wonderful. We recall our younger days because of the different folk dances and songs that they have presented. Superb activities, the indigenous games were a delightful to watch. United Ilocandia. -oOoI really love eating “pasayan’’ panalo! Sta. Teresita really deserved to be called the vannamae Capital of the North. SARAP! Ma’am Epi, DILG. -oOoThese are just some of the flattering words that they have shared with me during their travel in our town. It is a manifestation that we have a lot of potential world class spots to explore and discover. As a Theresian, the challenge now to all of us is to protect and the treasures that we have. Tourism is everybody’s concern; we should not be a tourism alien to our own town. Let us preserve and protect the potential spots that we have here in Sta. Teresita and let us continue sharing the best that we have.

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Unsung heroes Compiled by the Editorial Staff

Because this is our last festival issue, it is with pride and honor that we give the nameless and faceless individuals who likewise made the 1st National Ecotourism Festival a modest success. The Guides and rescuers - Without them, life for the local and foreign cavers could have been a bit difficult. Base Camp sweepers – It is refreshing to hear that groups such as the United Ilocandia (UI) and Samahang Ilocano (SI) fraternities found time to clean the base camp everyday. Not all fraternities can do that. Drivers – They never complain. It is to their gratitude that they can serve you the way they serve their bosses. Stage hands and designers – They are called the Eternal Stage designers. Regardless of the occasion, no matter how small or big the stage is, or where it is located, their creativity speaks louder than their sacrifices. Hats off, DepEd! Boatmen of Bangalao – Abled bodied, they wear permanent genuine Sta. Teresita smile. Accomodating and hospitable could be the better words. Runners – They are jack-of-all trades. They give you coffee this minute, they purchase materials for decors the next. They are the bees of the festival. Tricycle drivers – As stakeholders, they can be the most disciplined tricycle drivers in North Cagayan. They don’t speak English over here. Food service – You go hungry while in Sta. Teresita, it’s their fault. So far, they played their roles to the hilt. Sta. Teresita beauties – Charmingly very hospitable despite the uncomfortably high heels. The above are just some of the many people who continuously work even without orders to ensure the success of events their municipality hosts. Like the rest of them, you can be one. On personal notes: Let me thank Nida and Ancis of SMOC, Tourism Officer Jocelyn Bumatay who miscalled me everytime I miscalled her, driver Jerry, Judith of the Hawayano House where we stayed, Pancitan Sa Bukid, teacher James for the laughter during unholy hours of this production and My Manang Thelma Mercado who fully understood my craziness every second of those dawn hours and instead provide me with overflowing coffee. Of course to Alvin, the graphic designer of this publication and our PIA Regional Director Purita Licas for allowing my creative juices to once again flow for


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SB issues ordinance to protect town’s caves and lakes The municipality of Sta. Teresita has prohibited the cutting of trees and other forms of destruction including littering within the areas where caves and lakes are located. In an unprecedented move, the Sangguniang Bayan chaired by Vice-Mayor Emmanuel B. Martinez enacted Ordinance No. 2, series of 2013 otherwise known as An Act Declaring all caves and lakes already surveyed as protected Areas in the municipality. The body recognized that the present administration has focused its initiative on ecotourism development such that hidden and unexplored caves and lakes in the locality are given priorities for improvements. During last week’s Tipon-Tipan Sa PIA Goes to LGU radio and television program, Vice-Mayor Martinez said the SB has always been supportive of the Local Chief Executive’s development agenda such as eco-tourism. “There is a need to conserve and protect our resources from human willful destruction, “ Martinez told reporters. However, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan said it has yet to study other national laws on protected areas like caves and lakes before it will give its own approval on the matter. (BSY/PIA2)

ENVIRONMENT PARADE. Local officials proudly wear their festival shirts during the opening parade, Monday, February 25. (Photo by Thelma Mercado)

DTI-Cagayan leads OTOP display The Department of Trade and Industry-Cagayan Provincial Office remained consistent in its presence as it once again coordinated with municipalities in the province for the One Town One Product commodity display at the Base Camp of the six day 1st National Ecotourism Festival 2013 in Sta. Teresita town. At least eight municipality plus an array of tiangge producers displayed their products. The different municipalities and their OTOPs were identified as Gattaran (Evergold Food Products) Alcala Ballesteros ‘isang subo ka lang patupat’, Gonzaga (Gonzaga’s best), Aparri, Camalaniugan (women products)

PROUDLY THERESIANS. Board Member Romeo Garcia and Vice Mayor Emmanuel Martinez can give commercial models on ramp a run for their own money. (Photo by Thelma Mercado)

“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed.” - Mahatma Gandhi “You can resist the invasion of an army but not an idea who time has come...the Ecotourism Festival idea.” - Bangalao staff


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Maquera cave... from page 1 Fortunately, the Veeliks found no graffiti or any form of vandalism at the walls of the caves. “The Mayor is doing a good job. She got a view for the future,” they said. Ruwen Balmana of the Pangasinan-based Balincaguin Conservancy likewise shared the same observation.

“Maquera is a great cave. They are various formations I never saw in other caves.” Balmana was quoted by PIA as saying. In its report to the local government unit, Sierra Madre Outdoor Club (SMOC) said the cave

is only about 300 meters from the exit of nearby Karkarato Cave. “While it is a wet muddy cave, it’s worth all the bodily discomfort of caving,” SMOC President Francis Battung said. However, the most enchanting inside Maquera Cave is the unique formation, the most enchanting of which is the SMOC- given name “Susong Baket Passage” because of the huge mammillary formations blocking the passage. “One has to pass sideways in between these formations to get to the next chamber, which is a huge room we referred to as the ‘poultry’ because of the large numbers of swiftlet nests

Bangkarera...from page 1 competing in two categories, the singles and doubles. Jovy Tactac, Municipal Planning and Development Coordinator, Bankarera In-charge said the teams were required to negotiate a 100 meter distance and back to the starting line. #Alvin delos Santos as reported by Cedric Rumbaoa

in the passage,” SMOC’s Nida Dela Cruz volunteered. Meanwhile, Mayor Lolita Garcia assured stakeholders, particularly the environmentalists group the municipality will pursue a massive IEC campaign to protect not only the caves and the lake but likewise the environment of the municipality.


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Where there’s SMOC, there’s eco-tourism The name of their group is pronounced ‘smoke’. Providential or not, such smoke has started to envelop the entire municipality of the once tourism- sleepy Sta. Teresita to shield it from wilful human destruction and wanton abuse of the environment. For those who knew them, they exude an air of snobbery at a time when protecting nature and conserving resources were words not yet included in our vocabularies. That they were pioneers in a road less taken can now be gauged by their experiences in the fields which, when transported to a book, can be voluminous. As early as 1985, they started to be everywhere when they were merely called the Dos Cuernos Mountaineering Club, a group of, then, young professionals from all walks of life. All of them are Cagayanos by birth or Cagayanos by choice. When Sta. Teresita Mayor Lolita C. Garcia wrote the Provincial Tourism Office to request for the exploration of the Karkarato Cave, who did Tourism Officer Jenny Baquiran call? The Sierra Madre Outdoor Club (SMOC) but of course! Again, either it was providential or by chance, SMOC and the local government unit, in May 2012, immediately jelled themselves as one and together they opened a tourism treasure chest called Sta. Teresita. The Right Time SMOC became the seed that was successfully planted into Cagayan soil. Such seed came at the right time. Around the world, the call to protect and conserve what remains of the earth natural resources, was just beginning

...from page 1

to unfold. Climate change was an alien word. El Nino and La Nina might have been twins and the ozone layer is just an imaginary area introduced by Hollywood-churned movies. In short, life was simple. Life was easy. But not with SMOC who started organizing climbs to Cagayan’s high peaks including Mt. Dos Cuernos where its original name was taken. They may have a third eye for the environment that what started as a hobby for Tuguegarao’s bored elite became a personal obsession to do something for mother earth. Soon, their name reverberates not only around the country but within the Asia-Pacific realm as the members began participating in mountaineering activities even reaching as far as Timbuktu. They were able to build national and international networks that their passion slowly contributed to the wellbeing of the environment. In fact, SMOC is the pioneer in Northern Luzon caving moments after they introduced to the rest of the world the once famous Callao Cave system- then the envy of other tourist destinations. British James Smart could only wear a wry smile as he tries to recall his personal friend Richard Guzman, who, during his lifetime has perfected the art of caving photography as early as the late 1970s. (Note: James arrived yesterday with his Isabelino wife to rejoin his other team mates from SMOC. The British led the Callao Caves exploration in Cagayan during the incumbency of Governor Teresa Dupaya)


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Results of the various fun games conducted Tug Of War Champion (Men’s Category) - Simbaluca Tug of War Champion (Women’s Category) – DepEd Obstacle Race Champion- J-14 Gonzaga, (Time: 6:39.22) 1st Runner-Up – Precy Unipa, (Time: 7:26.7 2nd Runner-Up – Eric Lazo, (Time: 7:33.16) Eating Leddeg - Champion-Carmelo Talaro

Kadang-Kadang

Kadang-Kadang Relay - Champion-Rescue 27 (Campano & Cabanglan) Individual Kadang-Kadang - Champion-Rommel Apostol Centipede Walk Relay Champion-CAFGU 2nd Place-SMOC 3rd Place-DepEd Over-All Chairman Over-All Secretary

: :

Mr. Renato Acosta Mrs. Floserpida L. Acosta

BANGKARERA

The Centipede

Singles Winner : Centro East Robert Vertudez, Jr. Doubles Winner : Centro West -Oscar Campano Cornelio Campano Reported by:

Renato Acosta Lovellia P. Labsang Junalyn T. Saribay Liezel S. Udaundo

Tug of War


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Anatomy of a Festival Supplement

Papers strewn unceremoniously into the Mayor’s office, our work place, revised scripts everywhere, plastic coffee cups, tired bodies on the coach, deadlines met and eyes drooping for sleep. It’s now 4:30 in the morning and the first draft of today’s final issue of the Bangalao, the official supplement of the 1st National Ecotourism Festival has been nicely piled on an immaculately clean table. The visiting journalists found two or three misspelled words on the final copy but he says, “It’s normal.” The good-humored Thelma Mercado, the town’s Information Officer is busy providing coffee and hot pandesal to so many of us, four writers actually. Now you think the paper you’re reading is just that? A newspaper? Consider. The editorial staff is composed of an award winning editor cum news and feature writer, an highly in-demand graphic designer, an on-the-job young but promising writer, a secondary school teacher and an information officer. We made the fully airconditioned Mayor’s office our passage to purgatory, a press room. There’s so much to be done, so many lessons to be learned, nose-bleeding coverages under the heat of the Bangalau sun and a breezy Sta. Teresita afternoons, follow updated games results, full stomach on laptops, overflowing coffee and the usual DepEd buzzes in between, provided by teacher James. Boisterous laughters fill the air as if there’s no tomorrow. This has been their world since the first day of the games. As early as when the first activity starts, they are there to cover, to take note, to interview, to capture on cam the events. The production is at five in the afternoon for. The staff busy themselves organizing their thoughts for another round of masterpieces for inclusion in the next issue. Yes, they don’t sleep a bit till five the following morning. No, they don’t complain. For all the Bangalao supplement’s worth, they enjoy what they think they do best. Between 11 in the evening to four the following morning, coffee peps them up. The second and final issue have been completed and ready for distribution. So next time you get hold of a copy of any supplement, be it at the regional or national festivals, remember that those behind the papers you’re reading are on an around the clock schedule.

The local government unit and the people of Sta. Teresita wish to thank those individuals or groups who in one way or another contributed to the success st of the 1 National Ecotourism Festival 2013.


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